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"CLASSICS PRESENTS..." Speaker Series 2018-19

Tuesday, March 19, 2019
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM
Watson Hall
Room: 217
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Dr. Christer Bruun, Professor, Department of Classics, University of Toronto

Historical Memory at Roman Ostia: Cicero, Publius Clodius, and the Porta Romana
The main city gate of Ostia, Rome’s port town, is known as the Porta Romana. Little remains of the gate today, but in antiquity it was the principal entrance for those travelling by land between the harbour and the capital. In the early 1900s fragments of two identical inscriptions that once decorated the gate were discovered. The monumental text, on five lines,  announced that the Senate and the Roman people had contributed to the construction through the agency of certain magistrates. For a long time the identities of these magistrates were unknown, but in 1997, a new, fairly sensational reading of the preserved fragments was presented by the eminent epigrapher Fausto Zevi. It became clear that both Marcus Tullius Cicero and Publius Clodius Pulcher had been involved in the construction of the city wall and gates. Important was also Zevi’s dating of the two inscriptions: they were not contemporary with these two late-republican arch-enemies, but had been carved a century and a half later.

The restored texts alert us to the presence of historical memory and of a very special lieu de mémoire at Ostia. The concluding part of the paper will focus on the reasons for the conscious inclusion in these public inscriptions of not only the respected statesman Cicero but also, surprisingly, of his bête noir Clodius.

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